At the University of Richmond, Human Resources and Recreation and Wellness have partnered to make employee wellness a top campus priority for faculty and staff. The URWell Employee program provides resources in different categories such as emotional, environmental, financial, physical, social and more to ensure their employees have all the access they need to create happy and healthy lifestyles.
Heather Sadowski, Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness at the University of Richmond, explained that while the URWell program is still in the infancy stage, after only being launched in 2014, they are constantly aiming to stay current with wellness trends. They strive to listen and adapt to the needs of the employee population.
“Employers have the ability to influence and to help educate their employees to see the vital impacts of healthy behaviors so that they can live healthier lives,” said Sadowski. “We understand that not every employee may have the same wellness goals. We thought by separating into dimensions’ employees could understand it’s not all about physical wellness. This helps those who may already be physically fit know there are other dimensions they can work towards. At any point in time, you may have to give a larger percentage of your focus to one dimension over the other, but we want to constantly reinforce that you need all dimensions for optimal well-being.”
The joint efforts of the two departments has allowed employees to have the benefit of a central location for the majority of their needs. There is no need to travel all around the campus websites to take care of things ranging from retirement planning to health coaches, it can all be utilized in the same location.
“We offer multiple programs, services and assessments to our employees for free or at a discounted rate,” said Sadowski. “The collaboration between Human Resources and Recreation and Wellness has allowed us to have one place for employees to find all components of the program. We have branded our logo and developed a website where all programs can be advertised. Most importantly, we are better able to encourage and motivate our employees to promote a lifestyle of wellness and fun together.”
The important thing to keep in mind if planning to incorporate a wellness program for employees at your university is each person sees wellness in different ways. One employee may think their health is the most important element to their wellness, while a different person could see their social world as what is keeping them well. Utilizing focus groups or survey to understand what your employee population needs is the best place to start.
“It’s best to start with surveys to determine campus needs or focus groups to hear what the employees want in regards to a wellness program. Wellness varies from person to person and campus to campus, but at the University of Richmond, we have begun to create a culture of wellness which we hope will help to retain current employees, appeal to prospective employees and build on the sense of community that exists on our campus. It’s my hope the UR Well Employee contributes positively to the overall well-being of our campus community for years to come.”